I have no religious belief myself, but I help to administer two local churches. I have generations of family churchwardens looking over my shoulder and the knowledge that these churches will close if people cease stepping up to the plate.
When the church is packed out for weddings and funerals, it is obvious that people still need a place for worship; hopefully, led by a vicar who knows their stuff and an organist who can play hymns that they learnt by heart at school.
But the trials come thick and fast. Our diocese asks for an annual parish levy that is five times our net income. The heating, lighting, cleaning and insurance (it costs £134 just to open the door for our monthly service) all adds up. We’re attracting an ever-smaller congregation, whose last act of charity is a decent funeral and a good collection.
Now the ceiling is about to fall in. For me, perversely, that is a bright spot. The sight of scaffolding and the plasterer sucking his teeth and telling me it was a 200-year-old cowboy job have been a pleasure.
It wasn’t meant to be coming away. We were planning to paint it, but discovered 100 square metres of unkeyed plaster gently floating off its lath fixings 20 feet above the floor.
Wondering how to keep it up there is just the kind of challenge I like. So thank you to Lincolnshire Churches Trust and its supporters, which gave us an emergency grant in 24 hours to undertake the work.
Charles Kenyon lives near Market Rasen, firstname.lastname@example.org